Linda – Wash.: I was 65 last November and have Medicare Part A in place. My private employer insurance ended October 1, and I signed up for Medicare Part B and a Medigap policy to start then. The only drug I take is a relatively inexpensive low-dose generic. Do I need Medicare Part D now?
Phil Moeller: Part D is voluntary, so you don’t have to get it. However, if you later need a Part D plan, large annual penalties will be applied to your Part D premiums. Actually, they’re applied to an average of Part D premiums, so even if you have a zero premium plan, you’d get socked with a penalty. The penalty is 1 percent a month, and it will be imposed so long as you have a Part D plan. My advice is to buy one of the many low-premium Part D plans that are available. If your drug use continues to be modest, you will wind up paying little for the policy, but doing so will allow you to avoid Part D’s late enrollment penalties.